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Apr 3, 2023

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5th Annual Arise Investment Conference

Arise conference explores banking for the digital age

Arise hosted its fifth annual investment conference in Cape Town in February, which attracted in excess of 100 delegates from across the African continent and Europe. The aim of this annual two-day event is to provide a collaborative platform to facilitate knowledge exchange amongst Arise’s partner banks.

“Themed Reshaping banks – Enhancing banking for the digital age the conference provided insight into the challenges and opportunities facing the banking and fintech sectors.

Keynote speakers on the first day included economist, Thabi Leoka, former Telkom CEO, Sipho Maseko, and former Google South Africa CEO, Stafford Masie. Thabi, gave a global overview of the troubled global markets, which face a poly-crisis brought on by the economic effects of COVID-19, chief of which are supply chain constraints and the rising cost of living. She also highlighted the impact of these changes in the global market on Africa’s economies.

Sipho an expert on the opportunities that mobile telephony has brought to the world, and Africa in particular, related how lives will continue to converge and connect through digitisation, based on an internet economy that will proliferate and become a critical component of the continent’s GDP. His counsel for banking leadership included the need to focus on understanding currently overlapping technologies in order to build new and simpler digital blueprints and scenarios, by automating, integrating, and reimagining existing processes – and finding the right people to conceptualise and implement them. Adaptability, resilience, and prediction are key factors here, he said.

Stafford agreed with this sentiment, concluding his informative presentation by advocating an emphasis on customer experience management (CXM). He also outlined what he sees as technology’s next big innovations – including cryptocurrencies and ChatGPT – while emphasising the demands the emerging Gen Z puts on companies and employers in general, and banks in particular. He concluded by saying that the future is already here, but it’s just unevenly distributed. This is why relevant, tech-driven, Gen-Z-facing financial inclusion matters will continue to be important when banks define their strategies.

The final day of the conference brought a second set of inspiring minds and voices, namely digital leadership specialist, Ray de Villiers, innovation champion, Rapelang Rabana, and technology specialist and author, Mushambi Mutuma.

Ray a specialist in the future world of work, covered a range of established and new technologies, including the impact of blockchain, ChatGPT text generation, DALL•E2 image creation, generative adversarial networks, and the internet of things. In this ever-faster-moving context, he said that the leadership challenge in technology is making businesses future-proof by deciding what technology to keep and what to add. He concluded by saying that the 5th industrial revolution will be about people, rather than technology and that it will become increasingly important to link innovation to social purpose and inclusion.

The second keynote of the day – “Getting to game-changing in innovation – strategies to grow, scale and generate new revenue streams” – was delivered by Rapelang Rabana, a computer scientist and technology entrepreneur. Her session outlined how companies can fast-track the traditionally lengthy and costly process of product innovation.

The final keynote of the day came from author and tech leader Mushambi Mutuma, whose presentation sought to plot “A path forward”. His engaging approach to innovation defined it as “the process by which we translate an idea into value. He offered distinct definitions for innovation (doing the same thing better); invention (making new things) and disruption (doing new things that make the old things obsolete).

All topics covered underlined the fact that it is important for banks to transform their business models from product driven to customer-centric driven, that touches all levels within the organization.

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